Princess Royal officially opens ECCI

08 October 2013

Building on course to being rated among top green buildings in UK.

ECCI's new building at High School Yards was officially opened today by The Princess Royal, the University’s Chancellor.

After 19 months of construction, £10.5 million investment and nearly three years in operation, the world’s first carbon innovation hub officially opened its doors as the George and Kaity David Centre - named after businessman and alum George David whose donations have helped make the project a reality.

The Centre - hosted by the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh Napier – acts as a hub, bringing together experts from business, Government and academia to innovate and solve the complex problems associated with the transition to a low carbon future – and is the first of its kind to take this new approach.

The Princess Royal and George and Kaity David were given a tour of the new building with Rt Hon Donald Wilson, the Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, Sir Timothy of Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Head of the School of Geosciences Sandy Tudhope and ECCI Executive Director Dr Andy Kerr. The party made a full tour of the building - meeting the design team from Malcolm Fraser architects, students and programme leaders in the Masters Hub, ECCI staff and business partners in the DHL Innovation Suite - before joining the invited guests downstairs in the Atrium and conference area for the opening ceremony. 

The build involved the refurbishment and re-modelling of the 17th Century Old High School and connected modern buildings and will comprise an innovation suite, lecture theatres, seminar rooms, and large atrium space for exhibitions and events and social space. An innovative approach to design and construction means the ECCI building is also on course to becoming one of the first refurbished buildings in the UK to achieve the industry sustainability BREEAM standard of Outstanding.

In making their designation decisions, BREEAM considers elements such as waste, pollution, land use and ecology, materials, management, health & wellbeing, energy, transport, water and an imaginative approach. Features such as reusing ‘grey water’ in the flushing of WCs, solar controlled glazing in the windows to keep occupants cool and remove the need for air conditioning and under-floor heating will all contribute to a 30% saving in energy consumption over the building’s former performance.

The 2333 square metre building sits on the site of Edinburgh’s historic Old High School in High School Yards, which counts famous figures such as Sir Walter Scott among its former pupils. Some of the building work also took place on the site of the 13th Century Blackfriars Monastery, which led on-site archaeologists to discover nearly 100 skeletons, one of which - a suspected nobleman – made headlines all over the world in March 2013.

ECCI represents a special partnership, between the worlds of education, science, business, and culture; created to address problems that need global and drastic solutions

George David, after whom the Centre is named, said:

"In itself, the ECCI represents a special partnership, between the worlds of education, science, business, and culture; created to address problems that need global and drastic solutions. The Edinburgh Center for Carbon Innovation has already shown that education can be the first step towards re-shaping the world we live in. That science can offer both sophisticated and common-sense solutions to real-life problems. That businesses can and should chose what is right over what is easy. That the future lies in changing the ways in which leaders, policy makers and communities think and act.

I firmly believe that at High School Yards the ECCI will find an ideal home to carry on its seminal work towards a low-carbon future; to carry on innovating.

The new building at High School Yards encapsulates this ethos..I firmly believe that at High School Yards the ECCI will find an ideal home to carry on its seminal work towards a low-carbon future; to carry on innovating."

“ECCI is all about new ideas, collaboration, and knowledge sharing"

ECCI Executive Director Andy Kerr said:

“ECCI is all about new ideas, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, so it’s perfectly fitting that our new home is on a site that has been a focus for learning and teaching for around 800 years. The building has been designed specifically to help ECCI to achieve its goals and we hope that by bringing the right people together in this unique environment we will be able solve the complex problems associated with climate change and the transition to a low carbon future.”

Lead Architect Calum Duncan said:

“In developing the proposals for ECCI we had to consider one of the key architectural or societal issues we are currently facing - how to manage the balancing act of reducing future carbon emissions with the need to reuse existing buildings being mindful of their historical importance; and at the same time to endeavour to create spaces which are characterful, vibrant, flexible and a pleasure to use.”

The opening of ECCI happily coincided with the announcement that Peter Higgs had won the Nobel prize in physics for his work on the theory of the Higgs boson. The 84-year-old emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh was recognised by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for his work on the theory of the particle which shares his name. Principal Sir Timothy O Shea was on hand to make a short speech on behalf of the University to the waiting cameras.

Links

ECCI featured in Scotland on Sunday: Read more

ECCI Opening on BBC Scotland: Read More

Nobel Proze for Higs Boson Scientists: Read More